EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

July 27, 2013

Water testing delay prompts swim lesson change

By Alex Lippa

---- — DERRY — Swimming lessons will move from Hood Park for a few days, but recreation officials say it’s just a precaution.

Recreation coordinator Nicole Ferrante said lessons will be held at Gallien’s Beach Monday and Tuesday because the rain prevented water testing at Hood yesterday.

“We have no issues that I’m aware of,” Ferrante said. “The rain made us change things. We have to make sure the water isn’t disturbed when it is tested.”

Recreation director Eric Bodenrader, who’s on vacation, had ordered a test be done this week, she said.

Although Ferrante said she didn’t know when the water at Hood had last been tested, she said the department tests every week or every other week.

Sonya Carlson, N.H. Public Beach Program coordinator, said it’s not unusual for towns not to test after heavy rains.

“If you’re not going to have anyone swimming there after it rains, why waste time and money to sample something there?” Carlson said.

It hasn’t been a great year for beach health statewide. Hood Park was closed for a few days early this month when the state issued a fecal bacteria advisory.

Carlson said she has issued 50 advisories already, far more than is typical at this point in the season.

Blame the rain, she said.

She applauded the rec department’s actions.

“It sounds like they are being proactive,” Carlson said. “We don’t adjust our sampling schedule because of rain, but I can see why towns would.”

Neither Ferrante nor health officer Paul Raiche said they have heard any complaints about children being sick after swimming in the pond.

DES tests the water three times a year at Hood Park, but the recreation department tests much more frequently.

The beach at Hood Park was open to the public yesterday, but swim lessons were held indoors due to the rain.

Parents there yesterday said they didn’t have any concerns.

“We’ve been here every day for the last three weeks,” Lily Villa said. “My kids have been fine.”

Another parent said she notices lifeguards chasing geese away from the pond every day.

“They do the best they can,” Amanda Parenteau said. “They can’t control what happens here overnight.”